How to spin a bad site migration into higher traffic and conversions

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Site migrations can be a daunting task because of all the things that can get lost or overlooked during the move. If not properly planned and executed, a site migration can result in a frustrating experience and kill your organic visibility, traffic and revenue.

A botched site migration was the situation performance agency Merkle was brought in to resolve for its client, a leading electronics manufacturer. The team found ways to recover traffic and achieved better performance than pre-migration levels, increasing conversions and revenue. The effort earned Merkle the Search Engine Land Award for Best B2B Search Marketing Initiative in the SEO category this year.

The task

On this particular campaign, the agency was brought in to recover organic traffic after a full site replatforming and migration to HTTPS. The site was losing nearly 50% of its organic traffic compared to the year prior.

Merkle composed a strategy that involved identifying which areas of the site lost traffic, conducting a technical audit of the new platform and optimizing for keyword signals.

The challenges

Because the team was not involved in the migration, it was harder to understand some of the nuanced changes in the site build. During the migration, many URLs had changed, making page-level performance difficult to compare. To add to that, a large percentage of the client’s organic traffic originates from specific model number searches and, due to frequently changing inventory, individual keyword-level performance evaluation was also impossible.

Fixing organic performance also meant untangling intertwined sections of the client’s B2B and B2C divisions on the site. The B2B division existed as a subfolder of the company’s main site, and some products were sold through both, resulting in heavy competition on search results pages.

To add to the complexity, the new site uses several JavaScript-driven components, server-side URL rewrites, hreflang tags for almost every country and a dynamic mobile…

 

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